Education

Category archives for Education

The Problem with Percentages

A sort of follow-up to last week’s post about the STEM “pipeline”. In discussions on Twitter sparked by the study I talked about last week, I’ve seen a bunch of re-shares of different versions of this graph of the percentage of women earning undergrad degrees in physics: You can clearly see that after a fairly…

Over at Quantum Progress there was a recent series of guest posts about a social-justice-in-physics curriculum used by high school teacher Moses Rifkin. I sort of glanced at it, said “Huh, that’s sort of interesting,” and moved on, but this got picked up by some right-wing sites, and exploded. To the point where the awful…

Problems with the Pipeline

Via Curt Rice (or, more precisely, somebody on Twitter who posted a link to that, but I didn’t note who) there’s a new study in Frontiers in Psychology of the STEM “pipeline”, looking at the history of gender disparities in STEM degrees. You can spin this one of two ways, the optimistic one being “Women…

This was a good week for “Chad bristles at side issues of massively reshared stories,” with the Vox and gender bias stories, and also this PBS piece urging parents to tell their kids science stories. That probably seems surprising, given what I do around here, but while I fully endorse the end of that piece,…

I’ve seen a lot of reshares of this report about the long-term effect of gender bias in elementary math, which comes from an NBER working paper about a study of Israeli schools. The usual presentation highlights one specific result, namely that on a math test graded by teachers who knew the names of the students,…

Over at Scientific American’s Frontiers for Young Minds blog, they have a great post on what happens when you ask scientists to explain key elements of a different research field. It’s pretty funny, and rings very true, as SteelyKid asks me tons of science questions, very few of which have anything to do with atomic,…

Math with Bad Drawings has a post about “word problems” that will sound very familiar to anyone who’s taught introductory physics. As he notes, the problem with “word problems” for math-phobic students is that it requires translating words into symbols, and then using the symbols to select a procedure. It adds a step to what…

I’m teaching my “Brief History of Timekeeping” class again this term, and as always, I’m tweaking things a bit. This is one of our “Sophomore Research Seminar” courses, intended to introduce students to academic research, so it’s not specifically a physics class, but I’m choosing to take the statements about research outside the student’s field…

Thanks, Common Core

“Daddy, ask me a math problem.” “OK. What’s 18 plus 6?” “Ummm… 24.” “Correct.” “See, I just keep the 18 and then add 2 from the 6 to get 20. That leaves 4 from the six, and 20 plus 4 is 24.” “Right. Good work.” —— “Hey, SteelyKid. What’s 120 plus 180?” “Ummm… 300.” “Very…

Some Follow-Up on Teaching

Yesterday’s Open Letter to Neil deGrasse Tyson struck a chord with a lot of people, and has spread a good distance on social media, which is gratifying. Given the delocalized nature of modern social media, though, it means I’m having essentially the same argument in five different places via different platforms. In the interest of…